There’s conventional wisdom that late night eating is bad for you. A midnight snack can do you harm, so you should start the day off with a big breakfast and slow down as you continue your meals. But does this practice hold up scientifically and should dieters shift their calories earlier and end their days with a light meal?
The Department of Agriculture’s Information Network doesn’t believe that eating late at night has negative effects: instead of stating, “it does not matter what time of day you eat. It is what […] you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight.” However, there are still reasons to avoid late night eating beyond just avoiding weight gain. You might initially only be concerned with your hunger and losing weight, but there are other dangers to late-night food binges.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
Have you ever stopped to get a late-night hamburger after a night out and regretted it the next morning? It’s not just the fast food. Eating late at night is bad for some people in that it can contribute to acid reflux. Whatever your usual bedtime is, subtract three hours and stop eating then. If you cut off your food then, you can reduce your risk of acid reflux.
After you eat, it’s important to stay upright and let gravity do its work on your stomach. If you lay down, you increase your chance of reflux. Avoid eating too late at night, and you’ll enjoy life with far less heartburn.
Potential weight gain isn’t the only long-term late night eating health risk. the only A recent study in the UK found that among adults with high blood pressure, eating a late dinner could spike overnight blood pressure readings more so than eating lots of sodium. These blood pressure spikes are especially dangerous in older adults, significantly increasing their risk of heart attack. Meanwhile, fewer of those who ate dinner earlier had spikes in their blood pressure.
Eating meals earlier isn’t the only factor in maintaining healthy blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart attack, but it’s an easy step to take. By making this simple fix, you can start living a healthier lifestyle.
Late Night = Cravings
While the calories themselves are much the same any time of day, the effects of late night eating have a lot to do with cravings. Especially if you’ve missed dinner or forgotten to eat all day, late night cravings are often for ice cream, pizza, hamburgers, in large amounts. If you do need to eat late at night, make healthy choices. A banana is certainly better than a bowl of ice cream. A grilled chicken sandwich is better than a greasy hamburger.
Late night eating isn’t necessarily bad for you, but it’s best to avoid it to keep up healthy habits. Consume the proper number of calories for your age, height, and weight, and you can maintain a fit lifestyle.